“Now what?” I asked. “How are we going to get him back?”
“I told you Miss Stone. We will pack him up in my backpack and be gone.” He tipped his head back, stretched out his arms and laughed, loud and hard. He did this for several minutes until his laugh subtly flowed into a low, rhythmic mantra. I just shook my head and thought him odd. But then it happened.
A breeze swirled around Robin, causing his tunic and hair to dance wildly about. When he met my gaze again, his eyes looked different than they had just moments before. The gold flecks were more prominent than the green. He seemed to be looking through me rather than at me. I did not trust those eyes. Nothing about them lulled me like before. He blinked precipitously and looked down. The wind surrounding him died as quickly as it began and the dry earth rumbled below Maxwell. The sun baked mud that covered the animal began to crumble and fall at his feet. I took a step back and watched as the blind, black rhino began to diminish in size. In less than a minute, the prehistoric, 2000 lb creature was reduced to no more than a trinket. I stood there in disbelief.
“There now. Let’s add him with the others.” Robin said calmly… in a voice I did not recognize.
“The others?” I asked as I cautiously turned to him. I gasped as I beheld a withering old man in Robin’s green tunic. His hair was streaked grey and white and his once beautiful eyes were now empty of all color. From his tunic, he pulled out a flask and drank eagerly. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sighed.
“You see Emma. There is always a price for negligent curiosity. I wandered into an abandoned shop in my country when I was no older than you. I liked the idea of an adventure. I thought my life to be so mundane.” He shook his head and spat in self-disgust before he continued. “I journeyed with a man to three destinations collecting items just as you have done with me….just as those who preceded me did as well. I chose for my locations the Amazon River, Gatsby’s mansion in West Egg and a place I had overheard an American claiming to have found gold…Snoqualmie Falls, Washington state, America. What I didn’t know, sadly, was that once you take an item from a fictional location-like the Gatsby mansion or Green Gables- and transport it to reality, its properties change…it becomes a...sort of portal, I guess you would say. Time has been still for me for seventy two of your earthly years Emma Stone; and now I am free.” He removed a long piece of twine from the backpack and stumbled toward me. He knelt down and ran his hands across the dusty, red clay searchingly, until he found the shrunken rhino. He carefully tied the cord around the rhino and held the cord up. Several other trinkets littered the make-shift necklace and my eyes grew wide in realization. His blank eyes met mine as he looped the necklace around his neck and said “Unfortunately, Emma Stone, that means you are not.”
I watched in horror as Robin faded and disappeared. The necklace lay drained of its power at my feet. A warm wind kicked up dust from the waterless ground and knocked over the bucket containing the few remaining drops of cherry cordial . I guarded my eyes with my forearm and bent down to retrieve the cursed talismans. When the dust settled I noticed an old shack off in the distance. A faded sign banged gently against the metal siding. It read “Stone Sanctuary. Where time stands still.”
Thanks for reading this week's story! Check back on Monday for a special St. Patrick's Day story by Thelma.